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The Shape of Water

Mexican film director Guillermo Del Toro has proven to be a master-craftsman. Overseeing such diverse movies like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the ‘Hellboy’ films, his attention to detail in creating wondrous fantasy worlds has been exceptional. He wants audiences fully invested in the visions he produces with ‘The Shape of Water’ another fine example. Solidifying Del Toro’s aims for consistent excellence in all areas of film-making, his latest adds to his reputation as an exciting story-teller.

Working in a top secret government underground laboratory during the Cold War in 1962, mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) goes about her duties. Her few friends include co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and Giles (Richard Jenkins). Reporting to the shady Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), Elisa’s world is turned upside down when she uncovers the facility’s secret. Discovering an alien being, her interaction with it changes the lives of those around her with the government stopping at nothing to prevent their secret from being revealed.

‘The Shape of Water’ is a masterful romantic fantasy told well. Del Toro’s experience in blending fantastical elements within real world settings reaches an apex. You shouldn’t be moved by this wafer thin romantic fable but you are due to the skilled writing and performances. Hawkins is amazing as Elisa, using movement instead of words to convey emotions. Her co-stars are equally excellent with the mix of CGI and actor for the alien ensuring this outlandish aspect works.

It’s Del Toro’s quirky touches making ‘The Shape of Water’ shine. The narrative never goes quite where you expect it, keeping you on your toes until the end. The story starts slowly but gradually pulls you in with its enchanting, elegant romance and mystical ambience. The cinematography and music are top-notch with the ode to classic movie musicals adding a special touch. It is evident great care has gone into bringing everything together into a satisfying package.

‘The Shape of Water’ is difficult to describe without spoiling anything so it’s best to enjoy it with fresh eyes. Those who allow themselves to be swept in the story will be rewarded with one of the classiest fantasy films of recent times. Del Toro has rarely made a bad movie, with ‘The Shape of Water’ yet more proof of an artist using the canvas of the silver screen to good use.

Rating out of 10: 8

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